Service Power Steering Light (Meaning, Causes & Fix)

Are you driving and suddenly notice the service power steering warning light on your vehicle’s dashboard? Are you wondering what might have caused this warning to appear and how to fix them?

You are in the right place if you need answers to the above questions.

In this article, we’ll be discussing what service power steering light means, the Cause of the service power steering light and how to fix them, How to service your power steering, and a checklist of things to do when you see the service power steering warning light on your vehicle’s dashboard, and lots more.

Usually, when warning lights appear on our vehicle’s dashboard, we tend to be concerned, especially when it’s the power steering warning light. It would mean a total power steering failure, making the vehicle much harder to steer.

If you have ever driven a car with manual steering, you know how challenging it is to drive without power steering, and losing yours would be bad for you.

The “Service power steering” warning tells you that your power steering system has faults and immediately prompts you to investigate a possible cause. The reason may differ due to the type of power steering system present in your vehicle.

If your vehicle uses a hydraulic power steering system, then a leak in the system would be the cause that would result in a low power steering fluid.

In this case, carry out a thorough inspection on your vehicle for any power steering fluid leak. And if there isn’t any sign of a leak, replenish the power steering fluid.

And if it’s an electronic power steering (EPS) system, you would notice an illuminated EPS light instead. EPS systems do not use fluids to provide the steering with assistance.

Now, there are no fluid levels to check, and as such, you would suspect the batteries because If you recently removed and reconnected your vehicle’s battery or required a jump-start for your car, it would confirm this.

What Causes the Service Power Steering Light to Come On

What Causes the Service Power Steering Light to Come On

Below are some causes of the service power steering light

1. Low Power Steering Fluid

The power steering system relies mainly on having a specific fluid volume to work accurately.

And if you take a look under the hood, you’ll notice a small tank where you can pour in the new power steering fluid, and you will notice that there is a minimum level and a maximum level, which are pretty close.

So when the fluid in the system isn’t enough, your pump won’t have a proper lubrication, and the fluid temperature will rise, which could cause your pump to wear out prematurely.

All these combined will lead to an early failure of the power steering and will cause the service power steering warning to appear.

Also Read: Where is the Power Steering Reservoir Located?

2. Broken Power Steering Belt

The power steering system is connected to a pump run by the crankshaft of your vehicle’s engine.

A pulley on the engine turns a belt connected to the power steering pump and thus always supplies the pump with consistent power. Sometimes, the belts could wear and tear, crack, and eventually snap.

When this happens, you’ll know immediately as your power steering will completely give out, and your steering will immediately become extremely stiff and difficult to operate correctly because your power steering pump no longer receives power from your engine.

This will trigger the service power steering warning to appear.

3. Contaminated Power Steering Fluid

Pressure is applied against a specific amount of liquid to operate the power steering pump. In order for power steering systems to function optimally, the fluid in the hydraulic tubes must be free of contaminants, air bubbles, and other liquid intrusions.

Contamination regularly occurs due to deterioration or falling apart of tubes and hoses present in the power steering system.

Similarly, moisture could find its way into the fluid, enhancing friction, which eventually leads to the power steering pump and, consequently, the power steering becoming extraordinarily stiff and difficult to control, especially when the vehicle is in motion.

This will cause the service power steering warning to appear.

4. Bad Power Steering Pump

Another reason why the service power steering warning may appear on your vehicle’s dashboard is a Bad power steering pump.

The power steering pump is a proper mechanical component with many moving parts. Every mechanical component with moving parts will experience wear with time.

Seals can wear out, internal components can become warped, and excessive friction could eventually break it down. And sooner or later, the pump would lose pressure, and your steering would become less easy to operate.

Moreover, if your pump were to give out completely, you’d lose every bit of fluid pressure in your system, resulting in the total failure of your power steering you’ll be required to change the pump.

5. Power Steering Fluid Leaks

Even the smallest leaks in your fluid lines can cause a loss of fluid pressure. power steering fluid leak doesn’t happen immediately, as most times, it begins with a seal slowly starting to wear out and fail or a hose developing slight flaws.

It might seem like these are small and insignificant problems. They slowly and surely appear as minor problems, which become bigger, eventually leading to a failure of the power steering and a service power steering warning.

A leak can be arguably the most unpleasant problem, as it requires a complete replacement of seals, hoses, or fluid lines, and perhaps a new pump as well.

If the service power steering light comes on when you’re almost home, you’d almost certainly be alright to continue your journey safely, taking extra precautions while on the road.

Nevertheless, if you’re far from home, we’d recommend that you quickly come to a stop and call for a tow truck to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop to get your power steering fixed.

Either way, the steering wheel warning light will indicate that you have a problem with your power steering system and would need professional help to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

What to Do When the Service Power Steering Light Comes On?

Service Power Steering Light

It would be best if you did the necessary things whenever the service power steering light turns on while you’re on the road. Below are some of them:

1. Signal Other Drivers Using Your Hazard Lights

It would be best if you signaled other drivers on the road that there’s a problem with your vehicle. You could do this action by turning on your vehicle’s hazard lights. And by doing this, you’re also allowing them to practice caution when passing or tailing your car.

2. Carefully Direct Your Vehicle to the Shoulder of the Road

Examine the road properly for incoming cars and carefully turn your steering wheel to direct your car towards the shoulder of the road.

This action would require you to apply extra force while moving slowly, depending on the damage suffered by your power steering system.

Also, don’t be in haste to switch lanes. Always keep in mind that you might not be able to counter-steer immediately in emergencies.

3. Slow Down Until You Reach a Complete Stop

While you pull over to the shoulder of the road, don’t forget to step lightly on the brake pedals, making sure that there aren’t any fast-approaching vehicles before reducing your speed.

Also, once you’ve reached the shoulder lane, gradually apply the brakes until you reach a complete stop.

4. Assess the Severity of the Issue

After parking your vehicle in a secure spot, carefully proceed to assess the severity of the issue. You could carry out this action by turning the steering left and right to ascertain the severity of the problem.

Depending on the assessment outcome, you could continue driving until you get home or to a mechanic or even have the vehicle towed. Also, make sure to drive slowly and stay on the shoulder of the road to minimize steering inputs.

Be highly aware of your surroundings and apply defensive driving at all times.

5. Call For a Tow Truck if in Doubt

Call for a tow truck if you cannot steer the vehicle properly or under the impression that you shouldn’t drive your car in such conditions. Make sure that you park your vehicle at a safe position on the shoulder lane, as it could take some time before the tow truck arrives.

Also Read: Can You Drive Without Power Steering? (Answered)

How Do You Service Power Steering?

Here are the ways to service a power steering.

  1. Always check the power steering fluid regularly.
  2. Change the filter of your Power Steering Yearly.
  3. Perform a power steering fluid flush at regular intervals as it helps keep the fluid clean.
  4. Always check your power steering fluid level, as most issues with power steering are associated with fluid leaks.

Check out this video for more tips on how to fix a power steering

Related Questions – Service Power Steering

What Does It Mean When Your Car Says Service Power Steering?

If you ever notice a warning in the message center of your vehicle that says, “Service power steering,” it means there has been a problem detected with your power steering that requires immediate attention. And if it reads “Service power steering NOW,” it means that you need to take your vehicle to a mechanic immediately.

Is It Safe to Drive My Vehicle With the Power Steering Light Is Lit?

If the power steering warning light is on, it means that you won’t have assistance when you steer. You’ll still be capable of driving, but the steering wheel will be difficult to handle. In other words, you’ll need to be extra careful while you drive. But sometimes, restarting the vehicle could turn the light off.

How Much Does It Cost to Service Power Steering?

If it comes to repairing the power steering pump, the cost would be somewhere between $200 and $350. Replacing the power steering pump with a brand new one would cost around $400 to $800 (depending on the vehicle model or repair shop you take it to)

What Causes Power Steering to Go Out?

In some cases, too much fluid could cause the valves and seals to collapse because of excess pressure. Or not enough fluid, and the pump can’t exert enough force required to turn your vehicle. Inputting the right amount of fluid would help prevent this issue, but if there be any leaks, the loss of fluid will eventually lead to failure of the power steering.

What Causes Electric Power Steering Failure?

The electronic power steering systems fail due to the problems associated with the mounted electric motors. The most likely cause of failure is excessive heat on the motor. And also, an Infiltration of the system environment by dust, water, dirt, or other contaminants will eventually lead to a failure of the EPS.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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